Folding, French, or Sliding; Choosing an Exterior Patio Door
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How to Choose Between a Folding, French, or Sliding Exterior Patio Door

For many people, a patio door is synonymous with the backdoor. Typically, the patio door is the rear exit to your home, but it can be so much more. From the interior view, the type of doors you choose affects the look of your living room or kitchen. The style of door you choose impacts the room by adding natural light and can even be a powerful focal point to your home’s interior design. On the outside, it can complement the architecture and transition your living space by opening up to a deck or your backyard creating a seamless transition for entertaining during barbecues and pool parties. We’ll examine reasons to consider upgrading, three popular types of patio doors, their features, and what to consider when choosing the perfect door for your home.

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Reasons to Upgrade 

  • Remodeling interior or exterior
  • Operational issues
  • Energy efficiency

There are many reasons for choosing to change out your patio door. Maybe it’s just time for a new look or you are remodeling your interior space. Updating your kitchen or living room is a fantastic reason to change your doors to help give the room a new look. Maybe the room is too dark and you want to bring in more natural light. Perhaps you are landscaping your backyard, adding a deck or having a swimming pool installed.   

Another consideration is the doors are just old and worn out. If your patio doors are sticking or no longer functioning properly, it may be time to consider replacements. Doors that don’t close or lock properly can be a security issue, including the ability to open them quickly from the inside and out. Also, consider if you can get the door open quickly in the event of an emergency.  

Finally, consider energy efficiency. If your old doors are drafty or the seals are bad, you are likely letting cool air out in the summer and cold air in during the winter.  Your heating and AC system have to work harder increasing your energy bill. With advances in energy-efficient glass, many newer patio doors have glass packages available that allow light in and keep heat out. 

Folding Doors

Considerations for Choosing Folding Doors
  • Seamless transition between indoors and outdoors 
  • Perfect for frequent large gatherings
  • Ideal for decks, large furnished patio areas, pools
  • More light and ventilation
Considerations for Choosing Folding Doors
  • Insect issues
  • Space for panels
  • May not be well suited for some home designs
  • Extra planning and cleaning challenges

If you host lots of gatherings and love to entertain in your home or enjoy the outdoors, folding doors might be the ideal choice for you. This type of door seamlessly transitions the indoors and outdoors. Also called accordion doors, these patio doors are essentially a removable glass wall set up as a series of glass panels. Folding doors are perfect to open up to a large patio or deck and allow for free movement between indoors and outdoors during large gatherings. This type of door can often be found in pubs, night clubs and restaurants with large outdoor patio areas. If your backyard has a larger patio with sitting areas, a barbecue pit, or an outdoor bar area, folding doors can help you recreate a pub-like feel. Other advantages include bringing in more natural light and ventilation into the interior. 

On the downside, insects can be a big concern. Insects are a big concern in the DFW area. Since the area typically experiences mild winters, insect activity can be a problem for much of the year. In the early spring there are June bugs and mayflies. During the summer, house flies and wasps can be an issue and in the fall, mosquitos are most prevalent. You’ll probably want to make sure you have an option for screens. 

Centor Makes Screens for Folding Doors

If you’re interested in folding doors or have folding doors but want to add a screen, consider Centor products. Centor is the leading manufacturer of folding doors. Contact Brennan Enterprises in Arlington, Texas for a quote on Centor Doors and Screens.

It is important to consider the design of your home when thinking about folding patio doors. You’ll also need a bigger budget as this type of patio door is the most costly and expensive to install. Folding doors are probably best reserved for living rooms and larger kitchens that open up to a larger patio or deck. They may also not be a good fit for older or historic homes with a more traditional look.

Planning for how and where the panels will stack is critical. Depending on the design, they may go on the inside of your home or outside. The more panels the door has, the more space they will take up when open. If you go with a smaller setup with fewer panels, they might slide into the walls. Installing folding doors in place of other patio doors in an existing home might be a drastic undertaking. It is important that you use an experienced installer who is familiar with this type of patio door to ensure the installation is done correctly. Finally, you’ll want to consider cleaning challenges since this type of door is basically a glass wall.

French Doors

Considerations for Choosing French Patio Doors
  • A good compromise between sliding doors and panel doors
  • Elegant look and customizable
  • Takes up less room than panel doors when open
  • Easier installation and maintenance
Considerations for Choosing French Patio Doors
  • Less natural light
  • Limited traffic flow with large gatherings
  • No screen doors can lead to insect problems
  • Depending on configuration, view may be more constricted

Although not as dramatic as the folding door, French doors are also ideal for creating that indoor-outdoor feel in your home. French patio doors are a great option between the lavish and commanding folding door and the household staple sliding door. These doors are perfect for someone looking for an elegant and classic feature for their home and complement homes with traditional architectural styles. While not as expensive as folding doors, French patio doors are more costly than traditional sliding doors. They are a good compromise when planning your budget.

French patio doors are a set of hinged doors that can be opened fully creating a wide entry. The pair of doors has glass panes that extend most of the length of the panel. Sometimes these doors are referred to as French windows, swinging patio doors, or hinged patio doors. "French doors" typically refer to any set of hinged doors, some manufacturers also refer to a single hinged door as a French door. There are also manufacturers that differentiate French doors from others by emphasizing that the lower rail panel has a taller profile than a standard door. These doors can be paired with another door and open from the center or they can be paired with a sidelight in a similar style.

French patio doors are hinged like a standard entry or interior door. Similar to the folding door, French patio doors are like glass walls that can fully open. Assuming you choose a typical French door with two panels, you’ll want to decide if you want both panels to be open or just one side. You may also have the option for sidelights, additional panels, or customizable panel width. The glass can be customized with grids and even decorative glass if desired. French patio doors are easier to install, maintain and may have less glass than other types of patio doors making cleaning easier.

Your space and hardware will really determine how far you can open the doors but it’s possible to have a completely unobstructed clearing when the doors are open. This style door does have a wider frame so you may get less natural light with the door closed than you would with a folding door or sliding door.

Another downside is while this type of patio door can be designed so both sides open, it can restrict the flow of traffic and view outside compared to folding patio doors. If you have lots of guests over, the space to move in and out is more limited.  While the doors can be propped open to create the seamless feel of folding patio doors, there is not a good option for an exterior screen creating challenges with insects getting inside.

Sliding Doors

Considerations for Choosing Sliding Patio Doors
  • Most affordable option 
  • Integrates with almost any home and room design
  • Easy to operate
  • Screen doors allow ventilation and keep bugs out
Considerations for Choosing Sliding Patio Doors
  • More cleaning than French doors
  • Maintenance issue with keeping tracks clean
  • Safety concerns for toddler age children

Sliding patio doors are the most common style of patio doors in most homes, offering great views and functionality. Sometimes called ‘gliding doors,’ this type of patio door typically has two panels of glass. Generally, one is a stationary panel and the other side is an operable sliding panel. Modern sliding doors are also available in glass panel walls like folding doors and french doors and sometimes are available in three or four-panel variations.

There are several reasons homeowners might opt for sliding doors. They are typically the least expensive type of patio door to purchase and install. Sliding doors allow more natural light in but don’t require the space for folding or French doors. They are generally easier to open than turning a doorknob if well maintained, especially if your hands are full. Most sliding doors use latches and can be easier to lock and unlock from the inside. They also blend well with a variety of decor and architecture styles.

Sliding doors are an ideal choice for a home with high in and out traffic on a daily basis such as families with children or pets. They are desirable for homeowners that don’t want the open space between the interior and exterior. Sliding doors are a great option for those that do not host large gatherings on a regular basis or who have simple, smaller patios with less in and out traffic when company is visiting. 

For homeowners concerned about insects and energy efficiency, sliding doors are often the best choice. Energy-efficient glass packages are available with virtually all manufacturers.  While some other door options have insect screens, most sliding doors have sliding screen doors as a standard option making them ideal for ventilation during mild days while keeping bugs out.  

Looking for Sliding Doors?

Sliding doors are available in multiple sizes and configurations, explore our products to learn more.
Brennan Sliding Doors

Like panel patio doors, sliding glass doors are dominantly made of glass and can be higher maintenance to clean than french doors, particularly if your door is made up of more than two panels.  Patio door maintenance can be a challenge in keeping the tracks clean, dust and dirt can jam the wheels or rollers causing the doors to bind. Cheaper hardware on lower-end models like plastic rollers is also more prone to wear. One final concern for families with very young children is lighter-weight sliding doors can be harder to secure from the inside, making them easier for toddlers to open which can be of particular concern if there is a pool in the backyard. 

Which Doors Will You Choose?

There are many reasons to upgrade your patio doors. Whether remodeling to give your home a new look, energy efficiency concerns, or replacing a door because it is worn out, it is important to consider your home’s design and architecture, your lifestyle, and budget. Be sure to consider how your new patio door will affect the look and functionality of both the interior and exterior of your home and make sure to purchase patio doors with quality components including hardware. To learn more, explore the patio door options and brands that are available. If you live outside the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, be sure to find a reputable and experienced vendor and installer. If you’re in North Texas and are considering new patio doors, Brennan is here to help. Please fill out the contact form. We’ll be happy to help you choose the perfect patio door for your home and budget.

June 22, 2018
November 21, 2023


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